Children that undergo cancer treatment show decreased physical strength and endurance. This is coupled with increased fatigue and depression, when compared to peers without cancer. Play is essential for providing a healthy escape for children as well as allowing them to adapt to changes and express their feelings. This is significantly different for children affected by cancer. There is little research currently addressing this specific problem, but two things are known. Empowerment creates a fighting spirit that helps battle the disease and physical exercise improves cardio-respiratory fitness, mood and quality of life.

The Patient Empowerment Interactive Video Game utilizes motion controlled technology to combine specific physical exercise with empowerment, thus helping patients connect their physical progression with psychological cues and visualize overcoming their disease. Created in collaboration with The University of Utah School of Computing, Department of Film and Media Arts, USTAR, School of Medicine, School of Business, Lassonde Entrepreneurial Center, Technology Commercialization Office, and Primary Children’s Hospital.

Game Trailer

Current Status

We have completed an extended prototype of the PE Game that has been tested with pediatric cancer patients in their hospital rooms.  Favorable responses from the patients and their parents encourage us to validate the PE Game in clinical trials. We are preparing for the first trial with pediatric cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, aiming to test feasibility and some health-related benefits the PE Game. We have been applying for funding to carry out this first clinical trial that will open door to testing the efficacy, leading to a releasable PE Game. In the future, we will be able to repurpose the PE Game to other diseases beyond cancer. Our PE game is patent-pending, and we are looking for collaborators and partners that will help to make the PE Game(s) available to all patients.

For more information, please contact Prof. Grzegorz Bulaj from the College of Pharmacy at

PE Game in the news:

NPR Science Friday – Video Games May Ease Treatments for Cancer Patients

Los Angeles Times – Some Video Games can Help Fight Cancer, Obesity

Playstation Magazine – The Healing Touch

Game Credits


Kurt Coppersmith, Producer, Dept. of Film and Media Arts, University of Utah
Brandon Davies, Programmer, School of Computing , University of Utah
Wade Paterson, Programmer, School of Computing, University of Utah
Laura Warner, Artist, Dept. of Film and Media Arts, University of Utah
Jordan Wilcken, Sound, School of Computing, University of Utah

Principal Investigators –

Roger Altizer, MS. Game Master, Master Games Studio, University of Utah
Carol Bruggers, MD, PT. Department of Pediatrics, Primary Children’s Medical Center, University of Utah
Grzegorz Bulaj, PhD. College of Pharmacy, University of Utah
Craig Caldwell, PhD. USTAR Professor, Digital Media Cluster, University of Utah
Robert Kessler, PhD. Professor, School of Computing (College of Engineering), University of Utah
Troy D’ambrosio, Director, Pierre Lassonde Entrepreneurial Center

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